Median Pay is Lower for Black Baristas across Starbucks Stores

Median Pay is Lower for Black Baristas than for White Baristas across Starbucks Stores at 27 Airports operated by HMSHost, New Report Shows

Baristas at airport Starbucks stores speak out about mistreatment, poverty—leafleting planned for over 700 Starbucks stores in 40 cities

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ORLANDO—A report released today shows that while Starbucks claims the median pay ratio for people of color working at its stores in the U.S. is 100 percent, across Starbucks locations operated by HMSHost in 27 U.S. airports, the median wage for Black baristas was $1.85 less than for white baristas according to data from February to October 2019.

“I have to use payday loans for food. Sometimes I go hungry,” said Jay Kelly, an HMSHost Starbucks barista at Orlando International Airport. “I don’t eat if there is not enough food, to make sure the kids in my house get fed.”

Median pay by race

The report, entitled “One Job Should Be Enough: Inequality at Starbucks,” was released today by hospitality workers union UNITE HERE. The analysis reveals differences between public statements and claims Starbucks has made about its efforts to address issues such as racial pay equity, LGBTQ inclusion, and access to higher education at Starbucks-operated stores, and the reality for thousands of Starbucks workers employed by HMSHost at airports across the country.

Baristas have also filed complaints under the City of Orlando anti-discrimination ordinance alleging discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.

“Managers have made transphobic and homophobic comments. It makes me feel in a way that I’m going back into the closet, which is very unnerving to me,” said Gabriel Ocasio Mejias, an HMSHost Starbucks barista at Orlando International Airport. After speaking out about mistreatment and starting to organize a union, Gabriel was fired on February 18, 2020.

Key findings in the report include:

  • Starbucks claims the median pay ratio for people of color working at its stores in the U.S. is 100 percent, but across Starbucks locations operated by HMSHost in 27 U.S. airports, the median wage for Black baristas was $1.85 less than for white baristas in 2019.
  • When Starbucks closed stores for racial bias training in 2018, airport Starbucks stores remained open.
  • Starbucks workers employed by HMSHost at airports across the country are living in poverty—some have been homeless, slept at the airport, unable to afford food, or forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Thirty-two percent of respondents to UNITE HERE’s survey of 309 out of 2,512 workers from September 2019 to February 2020 were unable to pay their rent in the past year.
  • In multiple airports, LGBTQ baristas reported offensive and transphobic comments from managers, harassment regarding their gender expression, and repeated misgendering.
  • Over 25% of immigrant workers surveyed reported being told not to speak their preferred language at work.

The report is based on surveys of hundreds of workers and data about thousands of HMSHost Starbucks workers.

On February 27th, workers will distribute leaflets at over 700 Starbucks stores in over 40 cities across North America. Workers are calling on Starbucks to use whatever power it has to fix these problems at HMSHost’s Starbucks stores, to create an inclusive and equitable environment, and to make one job at airport Starbucks enough to live on.